After 10 years, the Google Now Launcher is set to shut down entirely. A recent tear down of the latest beta version of the Google app by 9to5Google revealed a message to users, cautioning them about the impending shutdown of the Now Launcher by the end of April.
Google Now Launcher to be discontinued in April
Google Now, launched in 2012, was more than just a simple launcher and introduced features that were integrated into other products. The Google Now Launcher (GNL), initially known as the Google Experience Launcher (GEL), was released in 2014 to Android 4.1+ devices via the Play Store, providing quick access to Google Now cards and a clean interface reflecting Google’s design.
In 2017, Google announced that GNL’s main capability would be available to OEM launchers, and the Pixel Launcher became the main launcher for Google’s phones, leading to GNL receiving fewer updates. Google Now Launcher, which was powered by the Google app, will stop working in April, according to the latest beta version of the Google app (14.14).
Devices that still have the launcher are likely not being used as daily drivers, so this change will have little impact. If you want to keep the launcher for posterity, it’s best not to update the Google app, which won’t offer many new features anyway.
The removal of GNL may result in a slightly smaller Google app. The Nexus 5X and 6P were the last devices to run the launcher and had the Now on Tap feature. Google ended support for those devices in 2018, signaling the end of the Google Now experiment.
Also, the launcher will stop working in a few weeks, albeit the exact day is still unknown.